by Mad Dog
Theres a major uproar going on in
this country over testing. Not that this is anything new. After all, testing is always
controversial. If its not radiation testing in the desert, its drug testing in
the workplace. If its not steroid testing in the Olympics, its medical testing
for an AIDS vaccine. Just saying the word testing seems to bring the worst out in people.
Maybe its the thought of using No. 2
pencils to blacken those little boxes coupled with the fear that if you dont fill it
in completely youll lose points even though you know the answer is "None of the
Above". Maybe its that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach because you
just know that theyre going to tell you that the perfect careers for you are either
turnip peeler or roadside car counter. But whatever it is, nothing gets peoples
blood boiling faster than bringing up the subject of standardized testing in schools.
Except maybe the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, but that only works on half the
On one side of the discussion are those who
say national or statewide testing is the only way to ensure that all children learn the
same things in school while offering a way to see how they rank among other students. On
the other side of the argument are those people who are too busy watching Americas
Funniest Multi-Car Collisions to form an opinion. Just kidding. Actually if they were to
quit stuffing Cheet-os in their mouth and loosened their grip on the remote for a second
theyd tell you that standardized testing will make this country more homogenized
than whole milk. Big deal. Like anyone drinks whole milk anymore.
The question isnt so much whether
standardized testing is good or just another sign of the coming Apocalypseafter all,
students have been taking standardized tests since blue-lined paper supplanted pieces of
slate as the writing medium of choicethe question is what these tests will be like.
Who will decide what questions to include? Who will make sure theyre fair over a
wide range of socio-economic strata? Who will take the tests home and grade them while
drinking Johnny Walker Red and watching reruns of Green Acres? And most importantly, will
they really help predict which of these students will be the next Jeffrey Dahmer?
In California, the state Board of Education
is getting ready to review the first set of proposed statewide academic standards. A
21-member commission has spent a year researching, examining, writing, and trying to
compile a list of achievements to expect from school children that they themselves can
actually complete. So far three members have passed, two are in remedial reading, and one
has been in detention every day since the sessions started.
What theyve done is set benchmarks in
language and math for each grade level. In kindergarten the students are expected to
recognize and name all upper and lower-case letters. In the twelfth grade theyre
supposed to understand how the inverse relationship between exponential and logarithmic
functions can be used to explain the laws of logarithms. This wont be an easy task,
since most high school students cant even explain the relationship they have with
their parents and think logarithms are what they hear when they beat on drums all night
after smoking that righteous weed they filched from Mom and Dads stash.
If anything, the problem with these
standards is that they ignore the practical world in favor of academia. If they really
want to test a students ability to succeed in this world, they should set up
standards that will reflect it, such as:
Kindergarten: Be able to
recognize the difference between an Oreo and a Hydrox cookie and be aware of the current
exchange rate on the spot cookie market.
1st and 2nd grades:
Differentiate between gangsta rap and gangster movies and be able to sing the former while
acting out the latter.
3rd and 4th grades:
Understand the TV rating system and be able to convince their parents that TV-14 means
its fourteen times less violent than Sesame Street.
5th and 6th grades: Defeat
any Internet child-proofing software on the market, call 1-900-HOTBABES while charging it
to their fathers American Express, and get a second trimester abortion without being
7th and 8th grades: Have the
tools needed to survive middle school and be able to use them, in particular,
switchblades, cheap handguns, semiautomatic rifles, and flame throwers.
9th and 10th grades: Use
blackmail to coerce the smartest kid in the class to take their standardized tests for
them while they loiter in the bathroom smoking cigarettes, flushing cherry bombs down the
toilet, and organizing a rally to elect Joe Camel as class president emeritus.
11th and 12th grades: Explain
to the 9th and 10th graders what emeritus means.
With these national standards in place, we
could once again sleep well at night knowing that our children will be prepared for the
coming millennium, ready to take their rightful place among the future leaders of the
world and to rush any fraternity or sorority in the country. Who says an education
©1997 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
If the education system was better more people would read them.